The Gerald’s PJ&B Grilled Cheese Is the Best Thing I Ate All Month

The PJ&B Grilled Cheese at The Gerald includes pancetta jam, brie, Swiss, caramelized onions, arugula, tomato, and balsamic reduction. Photo by Devynne Gannon

The PJ&B Grilled Cheese at The Gerald includes pancetta jam, brie, Swiss, caramelized onions, arugula, tomato, and balsamic reduction. Photo by Devynne Gannon

I’ve been lucky enough to live in Seattle for 12 years. And in that span, I’ve been to Ballard approximately a bajillion times. But never before had I set foot in The Gerald, a cozy neighborhood cocktail bar on Ballard Avenue directly across from the Tractor Tavern, a venue at which I’ve seen about 317 shows. Thankfully, this month that changed.

Sitting at one end of the long wood bar, my fiancé and I sipped expertly made cocktails concocted from the wide array of house-created infused bitters. I ordered the Roy, a rye-whiskey concept made with persimmon, fennel, and chamomile bitters, while my partner had an improvised martini whipped up by the friendly, talented bartender. But the real joy hit when the food came. Highlights of the night’s extravagant meal included the deep-fried mac and cheese (which the kitchen makes in a sheet pan, cools, and then cuts into triangle wedges to bread and deep-fry, creating delicious cheesy pyramids); the crispy cheese curds (because we can’t get enough cheese) drizzled with honey Sriracha; and the fried-chicken-topped funnel cake (because funnel cake).

But the star of the show was The Gerald’s PJ&B grilled cheese, made with pancetta jam, Brie, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, balsamic reduction, arugula, and tomato. The thinly sliced rustic bread used for the sandwich carries a solid crunch and yet doesn’t overpower the experience, serving as the perfect edible platter for the decadent ingredients. It was the best thing I ate in Seattle all month. But while the PJ&B took the trophy, here are a few other contenders:

Billiard Hoang: vermicelli with shredded grilled pork, shrimp, and egg roll

Tucked away on MLK Way in Columbia City, this Vietnamese restaurant/billiards hall is like a portal to a new world. Here, English is not the dominant language (thank goodness!), and the menu is vast, precise, and delicious. Want two pounds of fried chicken to split with friends while watching the Seahawks? Billiard Hoang has you covered! But the standout is their noodle bowl, which comes with deeply flavorful pork, grilled shrimp, and egg rolls as a garnish!

Bent Burger: bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich

Let’s all agree, sometimes you get hung over. And sometimes you can’t leave your home or your pajamas, and you have to order in. And sometimes that food is good, and sometimes it’s not. Well, Bent Burger in Seward Park serves the most fabulous bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich (on their breakfast-all-day menu). It comes on Texas toast and practically melts in your mouth as the aspirin kicks in.

Taqueria El Asadero: Burrito Macho with chorizo

A few weeks ago we wrote that this bus-turned-eatery doesn’t serve our favorite tacos in the city. However, this Rainier Avenue outpost does serve some stellar, flavor-packed chorizo burritos. Candidly, we hope chorizo makes a comeback in Seattle. The spicy Latin pork sausage is a firework of flavor and has these specific burritos singing.